Question of the Week
How much would you accept for Omar Bogle?
Where Were You When Leary scored?
By: Ian Townsend
THE last time I visited Holker Street was as a youngster in September 1971-the McMenemy era was just in it’s infancy and a team that had scored an average of three goals a game to that point was thwarted by a dour defensive opposition for a 0-0 draw. In truth I can remember sod all about the game but I do remember it taking seemingly about a fortnight to get there in a pre-motorway Britain.
The inescapable fact dear reader is that motorways may have speeded the journey up but Barrow is still a dot on the furthest extremities of England’s west coast a stark summary of the issues faced by the faithful in their quest this season in pursuit of B.S.P. glory.
As if to emphasise the distance between deepest Cumbria and "Civilisation" Barrow appears to have cultivated for itself a micro-climate. There can be no other explanation for the fact that despite leaving Grimsby in temperatures of upwards of 70 degrees the "in-car" thermometer was struggling to reach 50 as we pulled into the town.
The ground itself appears unchanged from their heady days as a LANCASHIRE league club. An open end (open to the effects of a strong breeze and spots of rain) for the away fans being in line with the "facilities" on offer at several places.
Scott and Hurst were looking to build on the solid performance from the team that earned them their first win on Tuesday at Mansfield. As a result there were few changes to the starting XI.
To be honest the first half was pretty much of a non-entity. Town had the wind at their backs and far too many passes intended for the wide players went well astray. Duffy battled hard and had some success in the air. At the other end Town were equal to what their hosts could throw at them with garner in particular getting in amongst them. Barrow were one of those teams that, when they came to Blundell Park defended as though their very existence depended on it. Like others they have found that it is not enough when you are playing at home. Their main tactic was to aim the ball towards their number 9 Curtis (who a couple of Town fans disrespectfully asked whether his waistline suggested a link to the firm of pie-makers of the same name in this area.) with the hope that he could blunder his way through.
The best move of the half from Town saw Connell feed the overlapping Wood. Woods excellent cross just evaded Coulson at the far post for what would have been a carbon copy of the midfielders excellent goal on Tuesday.
Duffy as mentioned was in the thick of it and from one of his knock downs Connell’s goalbound shot was deflected away by a Barrow defender who, on balance was probably the model for the person in the Divine Comedy’s seminal "National Express" song especially in the posterior region.
Distribution was poor though in general with the worst offenders being Cummins, Thanoj and Wood. That coupled with the biting wind and frequent rain had many of the battle hardened 154 Mariners wishing they were the best part of 200 miles to the East.
Half Time Barrow 0 Grimsby Town 0
There was talk at half time about the likely outcome of a second half where the home team would surely try to batter the Mariners into submission a la Newport, in similar conditions a week or two previously.
I am pleased to report that something appears to have "happened" in relation to that. No longer, thanks mainly to Garner and I’Anson and Wood are Town so easily fazed by a team that hoofs the ball up and relies on body strength to triumph. Town dealt well with the initial bombardment and found time to create some quality of their own. The balls that were hurtling out of play in the first period were holding up well for Town’s wide players.
Barrow’s failure to capitalise saw them become frustrated with a late challenge on Arthur causing a 12 player "handbags" which resulted in a booking apiece with the combative Bradley Wood "earning" Town’s yellow card.
The game turned in the 55th. minute thanks once again to a piece of individual genius from top scorer Alan Connell. He received the ball in space 25 yards out and seeing the Barrow keeper off his line executed a fantastic lob to put Town one up.
Barrow tried to come back but the back four and Arthur held firm with Town’s keeper making a great diving save to push a shot from ex Town player Marc Goodfellow round the post.
Town made their first substitution with Peacock replacing Duffy who was warmly applauded by the Town fans for his contribution.
Within a few minutes Town had doubled their lead. Peacock won a corner which when it was taken by Connell, was headed home by Michael Leary at the far post. This shock outcome galvanised several Town fans led by the Fishy’s Thornemariner into a chant of "Where were You when Leary scored".
The goalscorer made way shortly afterwards for his rival for the midfield spot Hudson but he can be justifiably pleased with his performance in a game requiring grit and good old fashioned effort.
Town saw out the remaining minutes without much difficulty although they were a little grateful to a superb I’Anson block as a shot came in.
Full time: Barrow 0 Grimsby Town 2.
So, back to back away wins with clean sheets. It may be early days but there are signs that Hurst and Scott’s winning ways are rubbing off on their latest charges. There is room for cautious optimism but anybody tempted to think that it’s a matter of simply turning up next season should remember we have two wins against teams with either nothing to play for or several injuries to key players. The proof of the pudding will be in seeing what additions there are in the summer and how they respond to the challenge.
Man of the Match
Given the poor performance in the first half there aren’t many suitable candidates. Alan Connell showed real class for his finish and the corner he fired in for the second showed what has been missing in that department virtually all season.
I’m giving the "award" though to Michael Leary for a display of real grit and determination with the icing on the cake being a very well taken goal. Mr Leary has the potential to become another of the unsung midfield heroes so much a feature of Town’s midfield over the last 40 years-beginning with Mike Hickman and ending with Stacy Coldicott.
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